ProAct celebrated its one-year anniversary of Virtual Enrichment services on May 4.
“ProAct Together” Virtual Services, is a well-received innovation that helped participants to overcome the isolation and lack of stimulation brought on by the pandemic.
Program Manager Stephanie Osman said the service started with 36 participants and was serving 175 a year later. She thanked the instructors who have made it possible across all ProAct sites and for their continued commitment to ensuring the classes are engaging and fulfilling.
Community Employment Manager Jessie Gruber worked with Osman to set up the initial classes. The schedule was changed each month and staff found lesson plans to increase class length each quarter. Staff learned that sending class materials to participant homes increased their ability to engage, Osman said. Individuals created “All About Me” books and tracked their own passports and country visits for an “Around the World” class.
New friendships resulted from ProAct Together and a renewed excitement for learning, said ProAct VP Kim Feller. Individuals without access to the needed technology were provided with Amazon Kindle devices and a system was developed to deliver class supplies via the postal service and ProAct drop-offs.
“Sing Along” is the most popular class. “Participants love requesting their favorite songs to sing and dance along,” said Osman. Some bring their own microphones and perform. The courses are offered mornings and afternoons to accommodate schedules.
There was practical help, too. “How to Home” taught participants about household tasks such as folding clothes, loading and unloading their own dishwasher and making their bed, Osman explains.
Classes combined individuals from multiple locations, Feller explained. And, an expanded list of class offerings was possible because instructors from across the nonprofit were involved.
The most popular classes can have as many as 50 people engaged at one time, who are split into different groups with instructors who teach activities.
It’s expected that many will continue to take classes virtually, even as the pandemic lessens. “Over the past year, we’ve received praise, gratitude and much appreciation for providing this service,” said Osman. “This particular team of instructors is really the best the business has to offer and are so creative and eclectic with their talents.”
Many participants made friendships across ProAct sites and will continue those interactions through social classes such as “Connect With Friends” and “Let’s Have Lunch.”
Osman said it sometimes takes a life changing event like a pandemic to open minds and get people thinking “outside the box.”